The ability to anticipate what is going to happen before it actually does is a quality that coaches look for at all levels. Anticipation is looking for certain plays to happen, and then being able to execute when it happens.
One of the biggest areas of the game that anticipation is crucial in is base running.
A good base runner puts much more pressure on the defense, especially the pitcher.
Scoring runs is not an easy task, and as players get older, runs are harder and harder to come by.
To score runs, a team must do EVERYTHING it can to give itself as many scoring opportunities as possible. One of the best tools to do this is the ability to anticipate pitches thrown in the dirt and advancing to the next base when it happens.
Being able to anticipate a pitch in the dirt and moving up to the next base helps a team score runs on multiple levels.
First, advancing to the next base makes it that much easier to score on a base hit. Moving from first to second allows a runner to score on a single, and moving second to third allows a runner to score on a ground ball. A runner advancing a base and then a hitter making contact could be the difference between a win and a loss.
The second way anticipating a ball in the dirt gives a team more scoring opportunities is it makes a pitcher think twice about throwing a pitch in the dirt with runners on.
If runners are constantly advancing on balls in the dirt, a pitcher will have the thought in the back of his mind that if he buries the pitch, the runner will move up.
This will help hitters get more fastballs and off-speed pitches up in the zone, which are easier to hit. A good pitcher that is able to bury a good curveball without runners moving up is much harder to hit than a good pitcher forced to throw pitches up in the zone.
The third way advancing bases on balls in the dirt helps offenses score more runs is it puts much more pressure on defenses.
If a catcher blocks a pitch and runners are trying to advance, there is a good chance the catcher will throw to the base to try and get the runners.
The more times a team makes a catcher throw, especially at younger ages of baseball, the more chances there are for throwing errors and advancing more bases. A good baserunner is able to cause panic and chaos among the defense. This can only help to score more runs.
As you can see, being able to advance bases on pitches in the dirt will help teams out on multiple levels.
If you watch good teams and player at all levels, they will all do this.
Advancing bases does not take a lot of speed, it just takes trusting your eyes and getting a jump as soon as you know the ball is going in the dirt. The more a player works on this skill, the better he will become at it. He may get thrown out a few times, but once this skill is mastered, it will help teams win more games.
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